Retraining as a teacher in your 50s 

We take a look at how some people are choosing to retrain in their 50s and how, for some, teaching is a great choice.

Older woman reading at a desk


There are more people choosing to retrain in their 50s than ever before. Research from the London School of Business and Finance found that among working adults aged 45 to 54, around half are seeking new challenges and opportunities.

This is partly driven by ever-increasing retirement ages, but also the fact that people in their 50s are generally healthier than ever and have an appetite for new opportunities and challenges.

Retraining is a great way to inject new life into your career and in 2015 the Education Secretary put out a call to the over 50s to pursue teacher training. This was a important step in recognising what the over 50s have to offer schools and their students.

Here we look at what it means to retrain as a teacher over 50.

Why the over 50s make ideal teachers

People in their 50s make excellent teachers for many reasons. The teaching profession greatly values ‘real world’ experience as it benefits both students and teaching colleagues. It gives you a useful sense of perspective and insight..

Many of us also have more time and ‘head space’ to devote to teaching in our 50s. Our children are likely to be older and more self-sufficient, or have left home entirely.

That gives us valuable time to devote to lesson preparation and marking. Lots of people start seeking new interests and
opportunities at this age, so it’s a great time to take on a new challenge.

What teaching offers the over 50s

Teaching is an enormously rewarding career with plenty of variety on offer. Teaching in a primary school clearly presents different experiences and challenges from secondary school or college, yet most find the job very fulfilling.

An important element in this is the clear purpose behind your role and the impact you can have working with the young.

Older teachers say that their career makes them feel more connected with the younger generation and that the challenges of teaching bring them new inspiration and energy. The long summer break is well appreciated too!

How to retrain as a teacher over 50

The UK government is actively encouraging older people to retrain as teachers, and the Teaching website provides useful information and support.

Generally you will need to have a degree or equivalent to enrol on a teacher training course. The programme is usually a year long and involves 120 days of practical classroom experience in two or more schools.

In general, it’s advisable to do as much volunteering in schools as possible to help you decide on the age and subject you wish to teach. There are five ‘key stages’ in school, taking children from nursery and school reception through to GCSEs and A-level.

You then complete two ‘induction’ years where you gain support from a tutor or mentor, a reduced teaching timetable and full programme of learning.

Will teaching over 50 suit me?

Teaching isn’t for everyone, yet it suits a wide range of people. The essential characteristics in a good teacher are the ability to communicate well and engage your students, and a passion for the subject you’re teaching.

A level of resilience is important too, as you will always have good days and bad, and the demands of the curriculum and education standards change frequently.

It’s a career that’s unlike any other, and could be the most rewarding job of your life.

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